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I managed to sell my sister's house and find her a comfortable independent living situation. Control of finances for a sister with declining abilities to manage her money. My 74 y.o. sister was a hoarder - I managed to sell her house and find her a comfortable independent living situation with her 43 y.o. daughter. The money is in a joint account with me. I also have POA. This money from the house sale was to be for her rent and living. She is spending the money frivolously and her kids are also taking advantage of this "windfall". The question is: can I transfer this money to an account in my name only so I can budget it for her? Her mental state is declining but she is still lucid. She is unwilling to get a medical assessment. This is her money but she simply doesn't understand that it's need for her rent, bills, etc.

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Epickett, the evidence you missed seems to be that, even though Annointed says her foster dad was in a nursing home, she was still buying groceries and whatever else "we needed" with his money. If commando, who asked the original question, takes the money out of the joint account and, keeping good records, uses it only for her sister's needs, then good for her for protecting her sister from herself and her greedy kids.
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pamstegma, nothing in annointed's post gave any clue of elder abuse. They were both on the account, and all of the bils were being paid satisfactorily. If there was no guardianship/conservatorship(meaning the foster dad was still competent), there's no breach of fiduciary duty. The dad can do whatever he wants with his money, including give it to his children. We're right back to the same issue as the original poster...
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Original poster here - First, thanks to everyone for the great advice, I'm still in a quandary but much better informed. The money my sister has will only last 4-5 years assuming she and the kids don't touch it. She's already spend $6k in the last 2 months and I just had to pay $2k this morning to IRS (and still have old Federal taxes to deal with). I know this is hers to squander but I'm on the hook when it's gone and being retired I do not know if I can. I almost think it's elder abuse to *not* manage her finances but I do understand the legal issue until she's declared incompetent. I really appreciate all the input.
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Dear anointed, the reason there is now a Guardian is that "we were both getting the bills paid and groceries for us along with anything else we needed." I'm surprised you were not charged with elderly financial abuse.
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I remember when I was on a joint account with my foster dad. Before I knew what was really brewing, pay day came when the check would've been deposited as usual. Oddly enough, I went all the way to the bank and they said the check was not there. Puzzled, I somehow expressed to the lady that was very odd because this is a day when all the checks are deposited from Social Security and those checks are never late. She still maintained it wasn't there and she didn't know anything. I went all the way home and logged on to the account through online banking, and sure enough the check was there all along, the teller lied! When I went all the way back up to the bank to confront her on the matter and call her on the carpet, that's when she came clean and said there something going on and that I could not have any more access to the account because something's going on but she didn't say what. Having never handle this kind of matter before, I had to go to my foster dad and tell him what was going on with the bank, neither one of us knew what was going on and we were both getting the bills paid and groceries for us along with anything else we needed. Dad wasn't too happy but I took it a little more in stride. When I finally went back to the bank again to inquire what was going on and why, that's when a personal banker told me that a court appointed guardian for dad came into the picture and took over the account. Neither one of us were warned this was coming, we just never saw it coming because we never saw any help coming for him whatsoever, and neither one of us were ever expecting the final outcome and where we are today. Not all guardians are nice, some of them are scrupulous! One friend of mine strongly suspects that the guardian probably saw dollar signs since he had a considerable amount from the government each month, more than what some people get on benefits. This guardian probably got greedy seeing dollar signs that she thought she would have a financial gain by taking over dad's financial matters and paying herself whatever she wanted. However, I don't see how this could possibly happen when the nursing home gets his whole check. This being the case may be why she decided to suddenly get nasty when she realized the whole check would go to the nursing home and she would get little if anything, my suspicion anyway
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My mom and I went to the bank and my name was put on her checking account for check writing purposes. I regularly took out a little money here and there, and paid all her bills, signing my name on the checks because she had dementia later. There was no problem AFAIK, and eventually she went on Medicaid when her checking account was low enough. After she passed away, I closed that checking account (after taking out the $100 or so that was still in it). I was not responsible for any of her bills, she had only one outstanding. I am not responsible for it.
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As aging myself said, you can take the money out in a joint account, because it is also in your name. When my mother started with dementia, the bank personnel warned us against the joint account, because if she would have liability it would transfer to the other person's name on the acct.
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Furthermore, since we don't know what commando has the POA for, we can't give advice like saying it's only good if Sis is incapacitated. That depends on the terms of the POA.
This really calls for an attorney who specializes in elder law.
As an irrelevant example (to this problem, anyway) I have given POA to a friend to sell my cars when I was going to be away. I wasn't incapacitated.
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Hey, everybody! If you are a joint owner on a bank account, you can take out all of it and do as you please with it. It's your money. May not be ethical in many cases; but may be the solution for commander.
And for everyone else out there: never put anyone else as a joint owner on a bank account unless you are OK with them taking out all the money.
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How about a separate account just for your sister, with you as POA to sign checks?
That keeps the reset of the family out of it perhaps. When I was made POA for two friends with memory and worsening dementia issues, they gave me complete authority, even if my decisions were contrary to their wishes. Fortunately, that never got tested. It took a lot of convincing to get them to leave their condo and go into memory care, but once that happened, everything became much easier for them and for me. Can you look at the POA forms to see if giving you complete authority is one of the choices? It was here in MInnesota.
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Dustien, I was not specific enough, it needs to be in her sister's name and set up by her for a purpose with explanation to ensure her rent is able to be paid automatically so she doesn't have to worry about if it was or wasn't. She can specify a POD as well. If she is still lucid then this should be a "no brainer" that will keep her in the style to which she is accustomed. The no ATM card would prevent her from dipping into that account using it as a credit card online, or purchases over the phone and gives her some freedom to spend away the remainder while planning somewhat for her future--controlled chaos. If she is anything like my parents used to be it was more of a "if you pay my bills you can tell me how to spend my money" attitude. I'm sure sis is just looking out for her but I can't count how many horror stories I hear of older persons getting cleaned out by seemingly well intentioned relatives. And she is already in her old age so 15 year stash is reaching while being optimistic she will live to be 90 years old. :)
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If you have a joint acc't with sis then you can do as you wish - take that money & put in gov't bonds or similar like G.I.C.s with differing maturity dates - then vulcurs can't come in & wipe her out - have those available as needed - here in Canada you can get 3/6/9/12 & more month units - so you are always 3 months from a major am't coming in - put them in her name but you as 'director' only - this will do what house sell was meant to do & that is to sustain her in her old age
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RaBonn, sis can only do as you suggested regarding the 15 yr rent account if the sister agrees. I'm betting her mentality is more like the "can't take it with you" mentality that you also suggested and she won't agree to set aside any of it, let alone 15 years of rent worth. I do agree with your suggestion that she take her name off the account if her sister decides she doesn't want help or refuses to take suggestions that she save some of this "house" money for the future.
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Incidentally, why did YOU sell your sister's house? Was this her idea? At 74 she is likely thinking she should be able to spend her money with the "can't take it with you when you go" mentality. Add up the rent for a year, tell her to set aside that amount x 15 (for 15 years) and put it in a nothing else account...and pay her rent from that. The rest she can do as she wants with and still be assured she has enough to pay the rent for 15 years. Set up an auto bill pay for that account that auto pays the rent/utilities each month and be sure to get the password so you can stop it or check the balances when needs be. Kinda settles both questions (she likely won't remember the password) and would get monthly statements showing what the balances were and transactions made. (NO ATM/Debit card for the account.) Should she move or pass away the transaction can be stopped online and the account closed by the executor of her estate.
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Since she is lucid and it is her money there is nothing you can do, however since your name is on the accounts I would consider removing it as her credit becomes yours as well (and if she bounces checks once the money runs out you are liable for them). No you can't move her money either. I did with my father's but only because I am 100% in charge of his finances and my mother has dementia with a brother who takes full advantage of the ATM card. I did that with his knowledge and consent. I also do not have ANY of my own money in that account so that my finances remain 100% separate from theirs. I am on all bank accounts and use them to pay all their bills. Sad to say your sister will have nothing left and there is literally nothing to do about it but watch it go. I would be prepared to say no when she comes asking for your help.
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The money is in a joint account which gives you access. You don't trust your sister to spend the money wisely. Seek legal counsel regardless of what you decide. Check out elder lawyers or maybe trust lawyers. Having a POA doesn't give you the right to move your sisters money around if that isn't what she wants but the fact that the money is in a joint account (depending on how the account is set up) may allow you to help her protect her assets. She may fire you as her POA, the kids will be mad that they can't get money from her but you might be able to sleep better knowing your sister can afford her rent for years to come. Good luck. Let us know what you decide to do.
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If your sister is unable to comprehend the rate at which her money is being depleted, then a wise move would be to call a family council meeting, outline what's going on, and ask for ideas of what will happen when it's gone. Get her children on board with you on this. And be sure to remind them that when it's gone, THEY will have to pitch in to help her out, not you.
I'm a bit interested in how you came to be on her account in the first place, especially if she is lucid much of the time and also has children. So far it's her money and she can gamble it away if she wants.
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If she can still make decisions for herself, it is a great time to take her to an elder attorney for her to create a trust. And if she agrees, she can make you the trustee. That's how my Mom's money is handled. The trust allowed her to make all of her decisions. It included a will, durable power of attorney, health care surrogate designation all in one package. So, I pay her bills from the trust, manage her investments. She determined all of her beneficiaries for each account and we are all good. She even designated the backup in case something happens to me and I can't do the trustee job anymore. It gave us both peace of mind.
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Also, keep in mind that, if she and daughter spend all the money and mom should need nursing home care in the not to distant future, checks written to daughter could hold her back. Medicaid has a 5 year look back and money that was given to others would disqualify her for a certain amount of time, meaning she'll need to be cared for by others until that time penalty has elapsed. They are very astute at following the money trail.
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I strongly agree that if she's in her right mind there's not much you can do. If she is in her right mind, you may have to stay out of it if you can't convince her. However, if she's mentally declining, that's where you'll definitely need guardianship as mentioned here. Guardianship will give you far more power and authority than just POA. POA has a limited amount of privileges, but with guardianship you have it all. It's kind of like living another person's life for them. Besides living your own life and making your own decisions, you get to also live another person's life by making their own decisions like you would for a child. Before taking on the guardianship roll, remember it's a huge responsibility and your life is not completely your own anymore. This may burn you out as the candle starts burning at both ends. You should also review your self and do some very serious soul-searching to see if you're even equipped for this type of responsibility because not everyone is cut out for this type of huge responsibility. Many may volunteer, but not everyone is cut out for it, and somehow the system is uniquely designed to weed out those who are not cut out for it, at least to a point
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Does the 43 y/o daughter work? How many other kids does your sister have? If talking to the kids about their mother's future doesn't have any effect, you might try to see if she can be found incompetent(harsh, but it may be the case). If the court appoints a guardian ad litum(sp?), then that person would manage her financial affairs, albeit at a fee. You *may* also try to be named as guardian/conservator, but that can be a pain to function as one. As soon as you get the courts involved, it will likely tick off the sponging kids. If you're ok with that, have at it. If not, you may just have to step back and watch the family implode when they run out of money...
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Consider setting up a budget with her -- where some money then is paid as "room & board" to daughter; mom gets a spending allowance for herself, gifts, etc. Go over it with her every month or more often if you notice charges on a charge account.

Remind her she will be broke and remind daughter or others who are getting money from mom - that in 2yrs, 3yrs whatever at rate she is going -- all assets will be gone and you are not going to bail her out. Discuss realistic care costs for in-home care X hours a week or if mom goes into residential care "$4000+/month. That should be a wake up call. Ask daughter "if mom runs out of money, are you still willing to house and care for her?" Remind mom, daughter that you and others will not be pitching in to make ends meet and a budget and conservative spending is expected and necessary for the sake of all involved.

Good luck. Doubt it will make a difference -- but at least you can feel better about having done due diligence. It can all go very quick at $4000/mo and once you go to NH -- that can escalate to $10K/month or more and drain estate completely.
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I will also add, once a hoarder, she will continue to hoard unless she gets professional help for this mental disorder. Spending is another symptom. Get her help before all her money is spent.
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If she is still "lucid", this is her money, then she can do with it what she wants. No, you cannot just steal the money away regardless of your good intentions. Discuss with her the ramifications of excess spending and budgeting, and if she wants to spend her own money then you stay out of it. There are plenty of fools who are soon parted with their money, and then they ask, "Where did it go?"
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Your POA doesn't give you the right to move her money into an account that she can't get into if she is Lucid. If she had dementia or Alzheimers and weren't aware of what you were doing, then it would be fine. But being in her own mind, and the money being from the sale of her house, she has control. POA only comes into play if she can no longer handle her own affairs because of mental incapacity or illness. Until then, she can spend all that she likes unless you can get her to voluntarily stop. It's time to be blunt and firm with her, let her know in no uncertain turns that she and the kids keep spending her money she is going to be broke in so many years. It will be awful when she is unable to pay her bills and thus be unable to live where she is because she ran out of money. Show her on paper what is going to happen and when using the rate of spending she's been using.

Eventually the only money she's going to end up with is SS and that won't be enough to live one I'm betting.

If she won't listen then you might bluff and tell her that you don't want to see her spend away her future so she's on her own unless she allows you to set an allowance for her and give you control of the check books.

She might feel better with everything in trust, as then she'll know that legally you will be bound to the trust and her wishes as to how she wants her assets divided when she's gone. You might suggest this...it's costly up front, but could save probate and lawyer fees later on to make up for the cost.

Good Luck...you are not in an easy situation and my heart goes out to you for wanting to help. Just know, that if being blunt (but caring) doesn't work, you might just have to walk away for your own self preservation. There's simply nothing legal you can do if she will not let you at this stage of the game.
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I wish I could suggest something "wise." Perhaps you could convince her to set up an account that requires both your signature and hers for checks to be valid.

Grace + Peace,
Bob
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Look into setting up a trust - with you as the trustee.
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Would it be possible to get the checkbook away from her? Charge cards? If you juggle accounts around she and the kids might lawyer up on you.

I'm POA for my folks and take care of all the bills. Dad has dementia, thinks moms paying bills, mom knows I'm doing it and she's fine.

Dad has one charge card for the drug store and groceries but I might have to end that as he's beginning to give money to crap charities over the phone.

Sometimes you just have to do what has to be done. Chose your battles and take the path of least resistance. I get by with fibbing a little also.
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Sale of a house should involve a considerable amount of money, I would not think it was wise to simply put it into the bank. Why don't you look into some kind of term investment that will pay a higher return for her money and also shield it from casual overspending?
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I agree but guardianship is likely out of reach at the moment. Do I have the right to manage her money until this happens? If I do not she will squander it. Of course, meticulous records will be kept. I feel "ethically" this is the right thing to do - just not clear legally. I would move the monies from our joint tenant account to one in my name in trust for her.
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